Pigtronix Keymaster Review [Updated 2020] + Buyer’s Guide

Pigtronix is a Long Island, New York-based company that has taken the task of redefining music tech upon itself.

They are among the world’s leading boutique pedal makers and are striving to push the envelope as far as possible.

The company recognizes the value of maintaining a vintage sound while still trying to experiment with the devices that they make.

In this article, we’re going to be looking at one of their most popular products, the Pigtronix Keymaster.

This article will cover the details of the device and how it compares to other similar pedals on the market.

Pigtronix Keymaster Manual – Getting Started

Pigtronix Keymaster Manual - Getting started

One thing that many musicians get wrong about the Keymaster is thinking that it processes any sound.

This isn’t the case.

The Keymaster, instead, is a universal signal-routing device, which allows you to do a lot of different stuff and experiment with the gear you already own.

For example, with the Pigtronix Keymaster, you can switch mic or line-level signals to instrument level signals, you can convert balanced signals to unbalanced signals, and the other way around.

It also allows you to route signals into a group of processors and pedals and then back out again.

An expression pedal can be used to control the crossfade, making it a great device for both live sessions and studio recording sessions.

In terms of aesthetics, the Keymaster comes in a very business-like package, making use of the space to place all the controls with enough room between them.

On the top are the XLR inputs and outputs while the right side has the TRS In and the left has the TRS Out.

The right and left side also contain the send and return sockets for Loop A and Loop B respectively.

On the forward edge is placed the power socket along with the expression pedal sockets.

The Keymaster can handle anything between 9 and 24 volts although it is supplied with an 18-volt power supply.

The unit also offers two gain controls- for input and for output.

Each gain control offers a 10dB boost in case of any signal-loss that may occur when working with many effects pedals.

Along with all of this, there is also a toggle switch to shift between series and parallel mode.

Pigtronix Keymaster Uses

Pigtronix Keymaster Uses

Being an effects loop pedal, the most obvious use of the Pigtronix Keymaster is its function as an effects manager.

You can use it to switch between effects or blend multiple effects, and along with that, there are some very creative ways to put this pedal to use.

For example, connecting an expression pedal while putting a delay on Loop A and putting B in bypass mode allows you to control the wet/dry effect very well while playing.

You can also use different types of distortions on A and B and blend them together to generate new sounds.

The Keymaster is great especially in live settings because it allows you to switch between effects rapidly and also create a whole range of different tones.

The Keymaster also allows you to bypass older pedals that aren’t ‘true bypass’.

All of these variations and the device’s range has earned it the title of ‘sonic Swiss Army Knife’, and we think that’s a well-deserved title.

Another way that the Keymaster proves this is by being an easy fix to the patch bay problem.

If your studio doesn’t have a patch bay, you can use the Keymaster as an easy connection point between external processors and your Digital Audio Workstation.

It is an intuitive impedance-matching device, which allows you to use a wide range of effects while still maintaining the quality of your audio.

Pigtronix Keymaster Specifications

  • XLR and ¼” (balanced/unbalanced) inputs & outputs
  • Dual instrument-level FX loops, true bypass
  • Impedance- matching, all-analogue audio path
  • Series /parallel operation
  • Crossfade function with expression-pedal option
  • 10dB input-gain boost /10dB output-gain boost
  • Pigtronix 18V DC adaptor included
  • Size (cm): 14.48×11.93×3.81

The Pigtronix Keymaster is currently priced at $329.

Pigtronix Keymaster Alternatives

There are plenty of copies of the Keymaster but very few come close to matching the original’s wide range and usability.

Here are two alternatives that are worth the mention:

1) JOYO PXL-8 Effect Pedal Loop Controller 

pigtronix keymaster alternatives - JOYO PXL-8 Effect Pedal Loop Controller

The JOYO PXL-8 has a large set of effects that can be switched between easily and deftly.

It has a maximum storage of 32 group tones.

It also offers 8 switchable effects loops and is considerably cheaper than the Keymaster, being priced at about $160.

2) Aphex 124B Stereo Audio Level Interface 

pigtronix keymaster alternatives - Aphex 124B Stereo Audio Level Interface 

The Aphex’s 2-way buffer makes it easy for gear operating at -10dBV to be connected to professional gear that operates at +4 or +8dBM.

It also acts as a signal splitter and its servo balancing allows both balanced and unbalanced output.

It is currently priced at $270 on Amazon.

Pigtronix Keymaster Vs Radial – How Do They Compare?

Pigtronix Keymaster Vs Radial – How Do They Compare

The Radial BigShot EFX Effects Loop Switcher is for those who don’t use too many effects pedals and aren’t producing texture heavy, dense music.

For starters, it is considerably cheaper than the Pigtronix Keymaster, coming in at only $100.

But it packs a lot of punch for its price.

The Radial allows you to set up two separate loops and also allows you to give all your pedals true-bypass capability.

It also lets you run loops simultaneously and lets you bring in loops into the signal chain with a tap on the footswitch.

Its ability to set up Loop 2 as a mute also comes in handy at times.

It is a small, durable device that is best for those just starting out with effects loop switchers and want to hone their craft.

It is easy to use and set up, weighs only 1.25 lbs, and, as mentioned, is significantly cheaper than the Keymaster.

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